Today we return for further examination of the remarkable deposit of evidence that American miliary personnel provided to Earhart researchers that solidified the undeniable fact of the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.
In my March 13, 2020 post, “Veterans recall seeing Earhart photos on Saipan” we began with Ralph R. Kanna, of Johnson City, New York, assigned to the Army’s 106th Infantry Regiment on Saipan, who was among the first of the former GIs to contact Fred Goerner during his early Saipan investigations. In 1961, Kanna told Goerner that as platoon sergeant of his intelligence unit on Saipan, his duty was “to insure [sic] that we would take as many prisoners as possible for interrogation purposes.”
The below letter from appeared in the July 1996 edition of the Amelia Earhart Society Newsletters. The headline is taken directly from the AES original; editor Bill Prymak’s note that the letter was sent to Fred Goerner in the “mid-1960s” is incorrect. Kanna sent the letter sometime in 1961, as noted in Goerner’s 1966 classic, The Search for Amelia Earhart. Underline emphasis in original, boldface emphasis mine unless noted.
Dear Mr. Goerner:
I assume this letter will be of some importance to you. In it I shall endeavor to state some facts concerning the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
I was Platoon Sergeant of the I & R Platoon of Headquarters Co. of the 106th Infantry, 27th Inf. Division during the assault on Saipan. It was my duty at the time to insure (sic) that we would take as many prisoners as possible for interrogation purposes.
On Saipan we captured one particular prisoner near an area designated as “Tank Valley.” This prisoner had in his possession a picture which showed the late Amelia Earhart standing near Japanese aircraft on an airfield. Assuming the picture of the aircraft to be of value, it was forwarded through channels to the S-2 (Intelligence Officer).
But more important, upon questioning this prisoner by one of our “Nesei Boys” (interpreters), he stated that this woman was taken prisoner along with a male companion and subsequently he felt that both of them had been executed.
From time to time I have told these facts to associates, and they finally have convinced me to write you. I obtained your address from an article in the NY Herald Tribune of Nov. 25, 1961. The article stated your interest in this case.
My memory is not accurate as to dates and times of the actual contact with the prisoner, but I had only three interpreters during my tour as Platoon Sergeant of the Intelligence Section. They were: Mr. Roy Higashi; Mr. William Nuno; Mr. Richard Moritsugu. I am sure that if contact could be made with these persons they would corroborate my story. I assure you I am not a crank.
This picture I spoke of must be somewhere in U.S. government files. I wish you continued success in your investigation, because I am positive that your assumptions are correct.
Ralph R. Kanna
The names Kanna provided Goerner were three men who had served as interpreters for his unit. Goerner located only one of them, Richard Moritsugu, in Honolulu, whose voice “quavered and broke” on the phone when Goerner asked about Saipan and Sergeant Kanna. Moritsugu told Goerner he had no desire to discuss the war.
Several other former GIs later contacted Goerner, among them ex-Marines Everette Henson Jr. and Billy Burks, whose stories are well known to those who’ve read Goerner’s The Search for Amelia Earhart, Truth at Last or this blog.
Later, 26 such individuals reached out to Thomas E. Devine in response to his plea at the close of his 1987 book, Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident. Their stories were recorded in our 2002 book, With Our Own Eyes: Eyewitnesses to the Final Days of Amelia Earhart, and especially Truth at Last, in which I devoted an entire chapter, “Saipan Veterans Come Forward,” to chronicling this phenomenon so unique to the Earhart disappearance, one that the establishment deniers, haters and nay sayers have no coherent response to.
These were just some of the American witnesses to the presence and deaths of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on Saipan.